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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Zebra - 1984 No Tellin' Lies
Zebra - 1984 No Tellin' Lies

ALBUM: No Tellin' Lies
LABEL: Atlantic
SERIAL: 7-80159-1
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 1989, Atlantic, 7-80159-2 * 2001, One Way Records, 35172 (2 on 1 with '3.V) * 2007, American Beat Records, 24412 (2 on 1 with '3.V') * 2013, Rock Candy Records, CANDY166


LINEUP: Randy Jackson - vocals, guitars * Felix Hanneman - bass, keyboards * Guy Gelso - vocals, drums

Additional Musicians: George Small - piano * Stan Bronstein - sax

TRACK LISTING: 01 Wait Until Summers Gone * 02 I Don't Like It * 03 Bears * 04 I Don't Care * 05 Lullaby * 06 No Tellin' Lies * 07 Takin' A Stance * 08 But No More * 09 Little Things * 10 Drive Me Crazy


If you are a fan of power trio Zebra, then it will come as no surprise that the general consensus about their second album 'No Tellin' Lies' is not good. After a lengthy bar tenure from their 1975 beginnings to their eventual 1983 debut, you would've thought the boys from Long Island via New Orleans had all the required musical chops and years of experience to turn out a decent second effort. Alas, not to be, but despite what you may have read, 'No Tellin' Lies' isn't a complete disaster either. You can probably put it down to a few things: a rushed second album (isn't that a familiar tale?), a lack of quality songs, and the band's penchant for experimentation. However, undoudtedly, the major problem according to many others out there on the web - is the production. The rhythm guitars sound like they have been suffocated on some songs (not all), and the drums have far too much echo. Certainly Zebra have some good ideas, and they are very talented.. no two ways about it.

The Songs
'Wait Until Summers Gone' gets us underway. The familiar falsetto of Randy Jackson surges through this mostly smokin' track. I'm sure I could hear the faint whiff of a flute in the background? Am I the only one hearing this? The guitar work sounds underpinned in my opinion, but overall there is so much going on in the mix, things become a little muddled. 'I Don't Like It' is next, and the opening drum sequence sounded as if we were heading into Twisted Sister territory with 'We're Not Gonna Make It', but thankfully we remain in melodic rock land. An Ok track, and less congested than its predecessor. Fans of the first album will like the very symphonic 'Bears'. Sounding as if the lyrics were sourced from National Geographic, the music comes from more traditional hard rock territory. A likeable track, though those falsetto vocals might give your eardrums a tickle. The barroom boogie of 'I Don't Care' sounds like a historical rerun of some of their earlier material, not really my cup of tea, but might interest those of you into The Boyzz or Black Oak Arkansas. 'Lullaby' has been compared to E.L.O probably due to its symphonic quality, but it sounds like there is a whimsical pop aspect to it too. The title track 'No Tellin' Lies' is Zebra doing what they do best, and this is pretty good actually. Batten down the hatches for the kick ass boogie rock of 'Takin' A Stance', which to my ears is much better than 'I Don't Care'. As a live number, I reckon this would go down well! Slowing the momentum down to less than half speed, 'But No More' has a few Rush tendencies, no doubt other reference points too, the song is sung in a reasonable register too. 'Little Things' is perhaps (next to the opener) the most AOR sounding track on the album. It has a rollicking feel to it, moving along at a good clip, with nice keys and duelling guitars filling it out. 'Drive Me Crazy' can be best described as power AOR, and for a finale this is pretty damned good. It's a pity they left quality songs like this till last.

In Summary
Undeterred, the band two years later for the excellent '3.V' album, but by then, trends had changed, audiences were fickle and record labels were unforgiving. Zebra lasted with Atlantic Records right up to 1990's 'Zebra Live', so good on them for that. In the here and now, the band still exist, and have released a couple of newer albums since, including a 1998 Greatest Hits Collection and 2003's 'IV'. As I mentioned earlier, this album (to my ears) isn't a complete disaster. There are a few tracks I really like, but unfortunately I won't be going back to listen to it as often as I would the debut or '3.V'. For completists only I would suggest.

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#1 | Eric on December 19 2009 04:38:41
I remember this being a big let down after the debut. I agree with all of the above and while I thought the 'Bears' video was far from the best of the era, I liked the song quite a bit.
#2 | Danielovich on December 19 2009 09:41:12
'Wait Until Summers Gone' features inhuman vocals, as the rest of the record. Luckly, Randy lowered his voice a bit and now is more accesible. I recommend 'IV', a truly fantastic album.
#3 | rkbluez on December 19 2009 14:33:56
Good album...maybe not of the quality of the s/t but still better than the more AOR 3.V which to me sounds nothing like the classic Zebra sound I like...don't get me wrong 3.V's cool just not my favorite Zebra album.

Songs like Bears (a classic) and Wait Until The Summers Gone are some very strong tunes...yeah Randy's voice is what it is...a Zebra either like it and like the band or you hate it...I for one think it fits thier music and makes it sound more original.

Zebra had their own sound...and in a world of copy cats they still sound fresh to me anyways.
#4 | jefflynnefan on December 21 2009 06:32:18
I remember listening to them and Triumph years ago! I don't think I have anything by them these days. I might have to pick up something and give it a listen again.
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